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  • Ken Zen

The Scent of Grandpa: A Homey Reminder of Love

The old house
A Homey Reminder of Love

The afternoon sunlight streamed into the courtyard, bathing the stone pathways and weathered structures in a warm, golden glow. A gentle breeze stirred the wind chimes, dancing their delicate tones through the air. Sunbeams filtered through the wooden window frames, casting dappled shadows that swayed hypnotically across the ground.

"Lily!" My grandfather's faint, cracked voice called out from the shaded gallery. "Lily, come sit with me."

I rose from where I had been reading beneath the pear tree and made my way slowly along the winding path, stones smooth under my feet from decades of use. As I drew closer, I could see Grandpa's small figure tucked into his favourite wicker chair, the one with the faded floral cushion he refused to replace.

"There you are, child." Grandpa's face creased into a smile as he reached out with a trembling hand to brush a lock of hair from my eyes. His skin, soft and tissue-thin, still carried the sun's warmth. "Come and rest your legs a while."

I folded onto the chair beside him, leaning gently against his bony shoulder. Grandpa had dressed in his usual old-fashioned style, an embroidered linen shirt buttoned up to his chin, a pair of long pleated trousers, and shoes of soft grey cloth. He had always seemed like a sturdy oak, weathered yet reliable.

"Tell me a story, Grandpa," I urged, taking his hand in mine. The raised veins and brown spots seemed illustrations of a life fully lived.

Grandpa gazed out into the courtyard, his mind travelling back through the decades. Then he began to speak in his raspy voice, transporting me alongside him into the past. He told nostalgic stories of his boyhood on the farm, of tending the fields every morning and exploring the woods in the afternoon. He shared tales of hunting with his brothers and learning to churn butter with his mother.

His stories rolled smoothly into memories of courting days, strolling down lanes thick with honeysuckle and stealing kisses from a pretty, blue-eyed girl. Grandpa's voice grew gruff as he described long, blissful evenings spent with his sweetheart before the war took him away. He spoke, too, of the aching loneliness and turmoil that followed, that seemed would never fade.

But then his tales turned joyful again as he recounted marrying Grandma after the war's end, laughing anew with hope reborn. He told me of lazy Sundays in this courtyard with his growing family, my father playing marbles on the stones. His voice caught when he recalled holding me for the first time, marvelling at my tiny fingers and toes.

"You gave me a reason to go on living," Grandpa murmured, eyes glistening. "Thank you for that, Lily."

We sat together in easy silence, my head leaning on his sturdy frame, his hand resting on my shoulder. The late sun cast elongated shadows across the familiar courtyard. I breathed in the scent of Grandpa—pine, worn leather, and home.

Now, when I stand alone in the courtyard, I feel Grandpa's absence profoundly. The rooms he occupied seemed to echo his hearty laugh. Though he's been gone for nearly twenty years, I still look to share a smile before recalling he is no longer there.

Yet, as I walk past the sagging doors and run my hand along the porch rail, I feel Grandpa close, enveloping me with memories. The sun on my back recalls his embrace. The wind chimes carry his voice. And when most afraid, I hear him say, "Stay strong, Lily lass. Keep your spirit bright."

Though Grandpa's body has gone, his spirit lives on through my memories and this house they called home. His presence is infused in every brick and floorboard. As long as it stands, so does he. Though his body left us, Grandpa's love remains, warming these rooms like the afternoon light streaming through dusty windowpanes.

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